Sylvan Fire ‘in good shape’ without much growth Wednesday |

Sylvan Fire ‘in good shape’ without much growth Wednesday

John LaConte
Vail Daily
Crews are on scene at the Sylvan Fire on Wednesday, June 23.
Photo from U.S. Forest Service

EAGLE — The Sylvan Fire, which is burning about 70 miles southwest of Summit County, did not grow much from its 5.5 square mile size Wednesday, June 23, thanks to higher relative humidity and cloud cover in the Eagle area.

“When there’s more moisture in the air, fuels are less available to burn,” Incident Commander Ryan Hughes said.

At 6 a.m. Thursday, Hughes will turn over incident commander responsibilities to Dan Dallas with the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team, which will bring more resources to the 3,583-acre fire burning near Sylvan Lake State Park in Eagle.

The fire began Sunday, quickly escalating to a level that warrants the large capacity available from a Type 1 team.

“The Type 1 team, they kinda come in with their own city,” Eagle County Sheriff James Van Beek said during a community briefing Wednesday evening. “Watch out for the trucks. Keep the kids away. There’s going to be a lot of extra traffic moving, so we’re asking everyone to be extremely cautious.”

The Wednesday evening briefing doubled as an introduction of Dallas, who said he was familiar with the area from working the Pine Gulch Fire in Western Colorado last summer.

Dallas said his team does not bring more expertise — just resources.

“There’s about 50 of us that show up, where (outgoing Incident Commander Ryan Hughes), you probably had less than 20,” Dallas said.

Sylvan Fire at a glance

Location: Eagle County, White River National Forest in Sylvan Lake State Park, 16 miles south of Eagle

Size: 3,583 acres

Fuel: Spruce-fir

Cause: Suspected lightning, still under investigation

Date of ignition: June 20

Firefighting personnel: 130

Dallas said firefighters working the Sylvan Fire may get an assist from Mother Nature in the days ahead, a prediction with which Kris Sanders, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, concurred.

Sanders said widespread showers and thunderstorms are in the local forecast Thursday.

“There’s a good chance that these showers will be pretty scattered in nature,” Sanders said. “Wetting rain, so to speak. That’s on the table for (Thursday).”

The cloud cover and the relative humidity should also help, Sanders said.

“The one thing that is the wild card is the wind that comes out of these showers,” Sanders said. “That’s something to keep an eye on. When these gusts of wind stir up things with the fire.”

And as for Sylvan Lake State Park, Hughes said crews have been able to keep the fire away from the campground.

“Much of the edge of the lake still looks very much the same. There is a patch of black that comes down to the lake, but your view out of your camper or tent from your campsite will look very similar for the most part,” Hughes said. “Hopefully, we’ll have some new trees in there in a couple years, but at this point, the park is in good shape, and the grass is really green.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but lightning is suspected.

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